Focus on outcomes will advance Army health care, surgeon general says

The Army should adopt the combat medicine practices used in Afghanistan and Iraq and shift its medical model away from one focused on costly processes to one based on health outcomes, its surgeon general said.

The Army practices "effects-based" medicine in Afghanistan and Iraq, which includes investing in such services as an aero-medical evacuation system that can transfer a soldier from the battlefield to a stateside hospital in 24 hours, said Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker. The procedure has boosted survival rates for wounded soldiers to about 95 percent as compared with a 70 percent survival rate for wounded soldiers in the Vietnam War.

The Air Force has evacuated 40,000 military personnel from those countries in the past five years on airborne intensive care units "and has never lost a patient" due to the level of care provided on these flights, said Schoomaker, who spoke on March 27 at the Defense Health Care Information Technology Conference at Georgetown University.

The Defense Department has asked for a $23.6 billion health care budget for fiscal 2009, and Schoomaker said an emphasis on health outcomes could help the Army cut its escalating medical budget, or at least stabilize it.

Improvements are still needed in health care technology on the battlefield, he added. While Defense has deployed a worldwide electronic health records system, using it in combat zones is difficult because the systems on battlefields don't have enough bandwidth to access files quickly, Schoomaker said. Medical units in Afghanistan and Iraq struggle to obtain the bandwidth they need from operational units, he noted. When it comes to fielding medical information systems throughout the Army, Schoomaker said there must be a careful balance between innovation and standardization, with an emphasis on the latter.

Asked what key medical IT he would like to see fielded to combat units, Schoomaker pulled out a digital dog tag he wears on a chain around his neck and said, "This." The digital dog tag contains all of a soldier's personal information that clinical staff can download into a handheld computer carried by a combat medic. But the tags, first tested by Defense in 1999, are still in the beta stage and not ready to be deployed.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.